National Catholic Register thanks priests

On the very day the Year for Priests began, I was happily able to post about a nice thing that happened to me on an airplane.

This now comes from the editors of the National Catholic Register with my emphases and comments.

Thank You, Father

BY The Editors

June 14-20, 2009 Issue | Posted 6/5/09 at 7:05 AM

As the Year for Priests begins, we lay editors of the Register want to take a moment to thank priests.

We want to thank not only the priests who have been our friends, but also those we barely knew, who did more for us than our friends ever could.

We want to thank not only the priests who inspire us with their words, but also those who moved us more deeply with the daily work of their priesthood than they ever could with words.

We want to thank not only those men who gave up their retirement, and their well-deserved rest, to enter the priesthood as late vocations, but also — especially — those who as young men saw their whole life ahead of them and handed all of it to Christ.

We want to reassure them that the attacks on the priesthood will not prevail, because Christ doesn’t take their kind of generosity lightly. [A good point to remember during this Year.]

We know that there have been terrible, scandalous priests. This has been true from the beginning — from the original Twelve Apostles [Indeed.  The first collegial act of bishops/priests was to abandon the Lord.] through the early Christian heresies, from the scandals before the Reformation to the scandals of the 20th century.

But we also know that the priesthood is under attack[I believe this is true.  I also think that this is one of the reasons why Pope Benedict is giving "gifts" to priests, such as this Year and also Summorum Pontificum.]

Priests know it, too.

Whenever someone looks at them suspiciously, whenever a mother hurries her children away from them, whenever they read an antagonistic article about how the life of a priest makes them prone to become monsters, they know it.

Their noble, loving sacrifice is so often made to look ugly and twisted — the opposite of what it is. The whole group is too often defined by the exceptions in a way few of us ever have to deal with.  [You know… even most of the liberal, confused, progressivists are trying to be good men, thinking that what they are doing is the right thing.]

But the priesthood will survive, and grow stronger. In fact, it is already growing stronger. There are more new priests than we have seen in a long time, and the new generation of priests is more committed to the Church’s mission than any in memory. [Everywhere I go, the seminarians I meet are solid.]

We want to tell the faithful priests who unjustly suffer from these attacks that we’re on their side and, more importantly, remind them what Christ said: Rejoice and be glad on this day, for your name is great in heaven.

Thank you, priests, for sacrificing the fulfillment of “making it in the world” in order to give us a chance to make it in the next world. You don’t take on jobs — they are appointed to you. You put your own will at the disposal of the Church, for us. We are grateful.

Thank you for bringing our children into the Church, and sustaining their souls with the sacraments. And thank you for welcoming them into the Church informally, as well. We see them look at you like celebrities, and we’re glad the first “celebrity” they got to meet was a man of God. Thank you for patiently listening to them, for taking such joy in teasing them, and for showing them the true face of Christ: the gentle one who said “Let the children come to me.”

Thank you, priests, for presiding at our marriages, even while you yourselves live such that you can be ready to serve your people at a moment’s notice. Sometimes married people sigh and think envious thoughts about living alone. But in the end, it’s hard for us to imagine how you do it. Thank you for risking loneliness to serve us and our families.

Thank you, priests, for putting yourself in the unenviable position of dealing with us at our worst moments — when we’re anxious, upset, depressed, even a little out of our minds, focused on our own problems to the exclusion of all else.

When we see the care you have to take in listening to the problems of so many kinds of people, we can’t imagine how you do it. How do you listen to angry people, whining people, weeping people, nervous people, suspicious people and clueless people? How do you listen to us?

Thank you, priests, for sitting in empty confessionals on Saturday afternoons. You wait there, not even knowing if we’ll come, like the Prodigal Son’s father on the road. Thank you for all the times we hear “I absolve you from your sins” and feel a great burden lifted from our hearts. This gift of God’s forgiveness brings the greatest joy back into our lives. We can give you nothing in return that even comes close to that.

 And thank you, priests, most of all, for bringing Christ himself into our lives. Where would we be without your astonishing ability to make the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ present on our altars and in our tabernacles? You are there for us every Sunday, every morning, giving us this infinite gift. Thank you.

In the end, that’s what is so great about you: not you, in yourself, but who you bring us — Christ.  [Illum oportet crescere, me autem minui.]

People call from the hospital and say, “I need a priest.” They point to the confessional and ask, “Is there a priest in there?” They approach in the airport and ask, “Are you a Catholic priest?”

When people need a priest, any priest will do.

Because a priest is nothing but a representative of Christ. Christ is the main actor in the consecration at Mass. It is Christ who forgives sins. It is in Christ that we are baptized.

“The story of my priestly vocation?” wrote Pope John Paul II. “It is known above all to God. At its deepest level, every vocation to the priesthood is a great mystery; it is a gift which infinitely transcends the individual. Every priest experiences this clearly throughout the course of his life. Faced with the greatness of the gift, we sense our own inadequacy.”

Your inadequacy is your secret weapon.

You aren’t acting on your own behalf or through your own powers. You are acting for Christ. And that’s why, despite all the attacks, the priesthood will prevail. We depend too much on you to ever let you go.

Thank you, Father, for being Christ for us.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. marthawrites says:

    For some gifts one can never say “thank you” enough. The priesthood is one of those gifts in our lives, in our world. St. Francis of Assisi used to kneel and kiss the hand of each priest he met, knowing what they could do which no one else could. Thanks, Fr. Z, for sharing this article with your readers: it brought tears to my eyes. As it happens, this weekend I sorted through 20 years of paper memorabilia saved on two closet shelves, and among the many cards and letters I reread were quite a few from friars who had served our parish, thanking us for our “thank-you’s.” Priests need to hear those words often; even when we disagree with their message from the pulpit or their demeanor at the Novus Ordo Mass, we have much to thank them for.

  2. Amen and amen! This article expresses so well what is in my heart, and most of our hearts, I’m sure.

    Thank you, Father Z, and all priests, for all that you do and give and are for us! We can’t possibly say this enough: We love you, need you, and will do our best to support you!

    May our Lord bless you richly in this holy Year for Priests, and always. May our Lady keep you safely beneath her mantle.

  3. irishgirl says:

    Thank you, National Catholic Register, for that tribute to the priesthood….and thank YOU, Father Z, for posting it!

    I pray everyday for our priests and seminarians!

  4. Mila says:

    Amen and amen. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you, Fr. Z., and thank you to all the priests I have had the privilege to meet and know in my life. May God bless each and everyone of you for the gift of yourselves.

  5. marnie says:


  6. wolskerj says:

    Daily Prayer For Priests

    O Jesus,
    I pray for your faithful and fervent priests;
    For your unfaithful and tepid priests;
    For your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields.
    For your tempted priests;
    For your lonely and desolate priests;
    For your young priests;
    For your dying priests;
    For the souls of your priests in Purgatory.
    But above all, I recommend to you the priests dearest to me:
    The priest who baptized me;
    The priests who absolved me from my sins;
    The priests at whose Masses I assisted
    and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion;
    The priests who taught and instructed me;
    All the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way
    (especially . . . . . . ).

    O Jesus, keep them all close to your heart,
    And Bless them abundantly in time and in Eternity.

    By St. Therese of Lisieux

  7. JoyfulMom7 says:


    I did this very thing yesterday before my flight home from Chicago. I had meant to ask for a prayer and a blessing from one of the priests at the Colloquium, but I forgot. As I walked along, I was so happy to see this lovely priest appear before my eyes at the airport and I tried to ask him to pray for me, but I started to cry. He kindly asked if I would like him to bless me, so I nodded yes. As I knelt, he began to bless me in Latin! I thanked him for wearing his clericals (he was wearing a cassock) so I could find him. He asked my name and where I was from. When I told him from near Harrisburg, PA, he said “We have an apostolate there.” Of course I then told him that was my own precious church! Turns out he was an FSSP priest and knows my own dear priest!

    Thank you for posting this wonderful article.

  8. Steve says:

    Yes, thank you to all Priests, past present and to come…

  9. Jayna says:

    I e-mailed this article to both of the priests in my parish. The editors have certainly put it far better than I’ve ever been able to. And definitely a nice refreshing change from that train wreck of an article that was in the National “Catholic” Reporter. Rather timely as well given that only just this afternoon I had one of those “worst moments” discussions with my priest. He was, as ever, gracious enough to not tell me to stop whining.

  10. ETMC says:

    That was so beautiful! Thanks be to God for the wondrous gift of the priesthood!

  11. Nathaniel1 says:

    [You know… even most of the liberal, confused, progressivists are trying to be good men, thinking that what they are doing is the right thing.] Comment by Fr. Z

    Thank you, Fr. Z. Many who were in the seminary during the 60’s and 70’s were taught how to be priests in a way that most people thought were following VII and that is how they exercise their priesthood today. Too often, especially in comments on this blog, these priests who are good men at heart are maligned. I truly believe that even the most wacky of priests(and lay people, too) are trying to do the right thing. They need to move forward to deeper faith, but at heart they are good men. Thanks again for your kind comment, Fr. Z.

  12. Mary Conces says:

    I’m so glad they came out with this article, which expresses the sentiments of so many of us whose families are also being attacked. We find our best help in the Eucharist, which we would not have but for our priests. It made me think of the many, many good priests I have known throughout my life–including many of the new generation just entering the lists–and including you, too, Father Z. You all will never know how much good you do–at least not in this life.

  13. Boko Fittleworth says:

    There is a context, if not a subtext, to this editorial in a LC controlled paper. Or have our betters decided to flush that story down the memory hole? Perhaps the enablers of abusive priests are not the best face for the Year of the Priest.

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